Undoubtedly, the first thing that a recruiter will tell you to memorize will be the 11 General Orders of Sentry. Print this and stick it to your fridge, bathroom mirror, and put one next to the toilet. Seriously, they’re that important.
- To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
- To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
- To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
- To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.
- To quit my post only when properly relieved.
- To receive, obey and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the Commanding Officer, Command Duty Officer, Officer of the Deck, and Officers and Petty Officers of the Watch only.
- To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
- To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
- To call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions.
- To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
- To be especially watchful at night, and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.
The most frustrating thing about them aren’t playing the memorization game. It’s that they are in “lawyer speak”. It would be much easier to memorize something you actually understand right? Below we will go over the actual meanings behind them. The meaning is much more important than just being able to regurgitate a few sentences. You will see these again in the fleet.
1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
One of the things that will be guaranteed in your time in the Navy is standing watch and you will stand a LOT of it. One of the most basic watches is sentry. An example is a sentry that stands guard at an ECP (Entry Control Point). One ECP watch is at the end of every pier. You will “challenge” (We’ll come back to this) everyone who wants to go past your post. The post is usually a small guard shack at the end of the pier. In addition to that, you’re in charge of all government property around you such as, the ship, government vehicles, and employees.
2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert, and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
A military manner means to remain professional on watch. That means not acting like an idiot while on watch. Sounds oversimplified but it’s true. Don’t stand there and bullshit with your buddy about where you’re going out on the weekend or mess around with your weapon. You’ll hear horror stories when you come in about guys negligent discharging their weapon and hurting themselves or someone else. Of course, again you are responsible for everything within sight and earshot. So say you hear gunfire a few hundred yards away but can’t see the shooter. You have an obligation to report it. However, you can’t just take off and engage the shooter in a fire fight. (see number 5)
3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
Back to the pier watch. If you’re in the a yard period, you will have an access list and have to make decisions on who you let beyond your post. Say you’re ordered to allow only Navy personnel beyond your post. If someone without valid credentials gets past you then you have to report it. Maybe these aren’t that hard to decipher..
4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.
Now a days, you’ll more than likely have a way to communicate with the others on watch. The only time that I can think of this coming into play is when there is a power outage or failed comms. You’ll need to play the age old game of telephone and pass up the information to the next step in the chain of command if someone doesn’t have comms with your supervisor.
5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.
This should be fairly obvious. You cannot leave your post until you are properly relieved. In some watch stations like the watch stations that you will stand in bootcamp, you will stand at attention and say “you are properly relieved.” Once you get into the fleet you will more than likely just be signing in or out of a log. Pro tip: If you’re coming on watch and the guy you are relieving messed something up, you can force him to correct it by saying you’re not taking the watch until it’s corrected. Trust me, this will come into play in your career.
6. To receive, obey and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the Commanding Officer, Command Duty Officer, Officer of the Deck, and Officers and Petty Officers of the Watch only.
The Commanding Officer is the captain. His orders rule. Beneath him, and when he isn’t onboard is the Command Duty Officer. This is a designated representative of that duty section that can make higher level decisions or can get in touch with the old man for guidance. You must obviously obey their orders. The critical part of this is to “pass on to the sentry who relieves me.” Any new orders that were given to you on your watch must be passed on to the guy/girl that relieves you. You’ll see a failure of this over the course of your career. I promise.
7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
Just as we mentioned in the second general order, you’re ordered to not talk to anyone except as it pertains to your watch. In reality, this isn’t going to happen. Just remember that you’re expected to be professional and to not get caught BS’ing.
8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder.
Makes sense right? Say you’re on watch and you spot a fire. You must report it first! Of course, you should fight the fire but you have to be sure to report it. If you get hurt or pass out from smoke or fumes, you’ll be screwed and the fire will keep growing. As for disorder, make sure that you don’t get tunnel-vision. By that I mean, if there’s a riot going on outside your gate don’t give it all of your attention. It could be a distraction tactic or you could lose control of your post because you’re not paying attention.
9. To call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions.
“I didn’t know what to do.” is an awful excuse. It will never fly in the Navy. This is a lesson you should take with you as you go into your Navy career. ALWAYS PASS THE BUCK. Never be the high man with a secret. There’s a good chance that the secret will be found out and it’ll cost you. Always pass information up.
10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
This will more than likely be muscle memory by the time you’re standing watch. You must still salute all officers and colors. You should still salute during morning and evening colors.
11. To be especially watchful at night, and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority.
If at anytime you’re going to slip, night time will be it. You will probably be tired from working all day and then standing a night watch. You will be expected to be just as vigilant. Night time is when you will be the most complacent more than likely. Which means it’ll be when you have to focus the hardest on your watch. You must challenge anyone and everyone around your post. If someone is standing near your post, you have to go up to them and ask them what they’re doing there.